What is this about?: Annie, Ash and Ruby are the Sirens. Three friends to the bitter end, who support each other through everything. And then a boy stumbles into their midst…but this story is hardly as simple as that.
What else is this about?: This book is inspired by this Margaret Atwood poem. It is about power, about young girls who are always looking for perfection, and in fact surrounded by people and parents who demand it.
Three girls, loyal to each other – that never happens. All the groups of three implode eventually. Two in, one out. Change. Betrayal. Again. And again.
But not us. I make sure of it. I make Ash and Ruby see that our power is in our three-ness. We can do what no other trio can.
Together, we’re strong.
Thick, thin, boys, mothers, divorce, other girls, secrets, lies, all of it.
I’ll keep us together.
Intoxicating and intense, lush and chilling, LOVE LIE REPEAT is the unmissable debut novel from Catherine Greer.
I didn’t quite know what to expect going in, but take a look at the poem by Margaret Atwood, which inspired the book. Love Lie Repeat is about three young girls — Ash, Annie and Ruby — who have been firm friends for ages. They are the type of girls who dress the best, wear the best clothes and are perfectly proportioned. They are great at sports, and at anything they take a liking to… or so it seems.
But, slowly Catherine Greer begins to share what their lives are really like, and so we are introduced to the reality of their lives as Sirens.
Annie, Ash and Ruby
Annie is the Queen Bee of the Sirens — which btw, is what they have named themselves as they are, in addition to everything else they are good at, amazing singers. Her parents are divorced, and her father is busy making a new life, with a new wife and new perfect daughter that isn’t Annie. Every word from her is filled with resentment and hate towards him — and towards her mother for being so weak.
That last bit, the break up of her parents, is the running thread that ties everything Annie does together.
Of all the things Ash knows, she is sure of one this: she will never be perfect enough for her mother. Never thin enough, never pretty enough … just never enough. And her mother tends to remind her of that, comparing her to Annie and Ruby, and their eating habits, their weight and whatever else she can.
Ruby thrives on the comparison. She is quick to chime in to Ash and ask her why she’s eating this and this and this when she knows it’s not good for her. She wants to be a designer, and has roped her friends into being part of her fashion show this year. For all her criticisms though, she is there when Ash needs her, when she starts cutting again and the Sirens rally around her to help.
It is when Ash’s step-brother, Trip, comes to live with her that the cracks begin to show in the girls’ relationship, namely because Annie has decided she has to have Trip.
It happens soon enough, but then Greer takes things up a notch and Annie begins to take centre stage. She is … vicious. And manipulative. Of everyone around her in her quest to become Trip’s girlfriend (most especially of Trip at first).
It also shows just how brilliantly she knows the people around her, their weaknesses and their strengths, and that bit is kind of awe-inspiring to see.
However, she does not reckon on Trip not entirely being as manipulative as she liked, on a holiday to Canada and his old stomping grounds where she realises she might not have him entirely. Annie grows more determined and more manipulative, and at the same time, Greer begins to throw in her past more and more, the break up of her family and how that shaped Annie.
And to tell you more, would be to spoil some brilliant characterisation on Greer’s part for Annie is mesmerising in her quest for what she wants, no matter who she has to go through to get it.
Yes, there are casualties in Annie’s quest, and no she does not give a shit. That’s what makes her all the more interesting and dangerous as a character. She’s a master at showing the world what she wants them to see.
Trip himself is a character that is somewhat of an enigma because we know enough of him to understand why Annie desires him so, and enough to understand that he is not exactly loyal. But, the interesting thing is, he knows enough to (almost) see Annie for who she truly is. That made me want more of him. But I can say that in something that is Annie’s story, he played a part that was just right for his part of this story.
Love Lie Repeat is utterly compelling a read for how it portrays Annie and the Sirens and their question for their own versions of perfection. It may be Annie’s story in the end, Annie descent in manipulation to get what she wants that takes centre stage, but it’s striking commentary on what teenage girls can experience.